Monday Accident & Lessons Learned: Investigation of a Track Worker’s Death
This is a summary of the investigation from the UK Rail Accident Investigation Branch…
At 13:50 hrs on Tuesday 4 December 2012, a train travelling from Scunthorpe to Lincoln struck and fatally injured a track worker at Saxilby, near Lincoln. The individual concerned was acting in the role of Controller of Site Safety (COSS) at the time of the accident. He was involved in work taking place on one of the two tracks at this location which was closed to rail traffic, but standing close to the adjacent line over which trains were still operating.
The RAIB’s investigation found that the COSS stepped back into the path of the train as it passed the site of work. The following factors led to the accident:
- the COSS had not implemented a safe system of work for the task that was being undertaken at the time that the accident occurred;
- none of the other track workers on site challenged the absence of a safe system of work or the actions of the COSS who was working within an unsafe area;
- the COSS became distracted and did not see or hear the approaching train; l no effective action had been taken in response to the involvement of the COSS in two other safety incidents in the two months preceding the accident;
- the COSS had not been subject to an effective formal performance review by the agency (SkyBlue) that had hired him for COSS duties for the work taking place on 4 December 2012 and on other occasions; and
- deficiencies and omissions within SkyBlue’s management systems had not been identified by its parent company (Carillion).
The RAIB has also observed that the processes employed by the railway industry during its own investigation into the accident at Saxilby may have taken insufficient account of the trauma that some of the witnesses were suffering as a result of their proximity to the accident.
The RAIB has made four recommendations. Three recommendations have been made to Network Rail regarding the use of agency staff in safety leadership roles, measures to address the risk arising from the use of agency staff in any role that involves working on and around the track and its processes for interviewing witnesses after serious incidents and accidents. One recommendation has been made to Carillion in conjunction with SkyBlue in respect of reviewing the effectiveness of changes made to safety management arrangements following the accident at Saxilby.
For the complete investigation report, see: